In conjunction with ArchiFest 2014, and coinciding with World Habitat Day, an Urban Crossover brought together designers, architects, consultants, students, app-makers, dreamers and a diverse crowd to source creative, constructive responses to the problem of poverty housing in Singapore and other urban centres in the world.
Organised by BillionBRICKS, a non-profit organization with the aim of innovating sustainable solutions to problems of urban housing poverty, the evening’s seven speakers shared their ideas Pecha Kucha style, where twenty slides are presented for twenty seconds each. The result was a structured snappiness and succinctness (think TED-talks) that had the crowd raptured – many even took notes throughout the night!
From volunteerism, to the social and cultural histories associated with Singaporean neighbourhoods, to the lessons to be gleaned from dense urban slums and well-planned cities alike, to the experience of living in affordable housing – each speaker approached the subject of poverty housing from their various disciplines, generating a rich and diverse discussion.
That said, there was one common emphasis throughout the talks that evening that was also explicitly mentioned in the talk by Divya Viswanathan of IDEO: There is a need to refocus the subject of these conversations about housing to people; simply because when it comes to housing, and affordable housing in particular, people and their experiences should be the bottom line. There’s no question about that.
Although organised by a small team from BillionBRICKS, ArchiFest and other volunteers, the Urban Crossover was an incredible success. Huddled within an intimate environment and unconventional setting coupled with well-curated speakers, the event left the crowd with much to think about. It too left us with two key takeaways and must-haves in event organising displayed adeptly by the team in action:
1. Be flexible and make the most of what you have. The crowd that showed up for the Urban Crossover was larger than expected because of passers-by, and initially there weren’t enough seats for all audience members. Thankfully, plastic stools that were used to construct the shelter for the event could also double as seating.
2. There’s no substitute for true passion. The organisers, presenters and attendees of the Urban Crossover were truly passionate about what they do. If you’re truly passionate about something, it will shine through and attract like-minded, equally committed individuals who will stay when the going gets tough, wait out technical glitches, and linger to connect with the community even after the event has ended.
Perhaps the greatest success of the Urban Crossover is not that organisers managed to pull off an interesting, well-attended event despite limited resources, but that the evening felt less like a one-off event, and more like the beginnings of a community being built.
ArchiFest 2014 ends this Saturday, 11 October – head on down or check out their programme here to find out about fringe events you can attend.